Homegrown Macon filmmakers shooting micro-budget independent film

alopez@macon.comDecember 13, 2013 

Brett Felty, 20, lay in his hospital bed with an anxious, tortured look on his face.

“What does it mean to you to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder?” his doctor asked.

“I shake,” Felty responded. “If you know you’re a monster and you have the capacity to hurt people deeply, how do you let them in?”

A camera attached to a crane-like contraption maintained its focus on him. A microphone attached to a boom picked up his words.

After a long pause, he called to cut the scene.

Felty is directing and starring in his first feature film, “The Naked We.” He describes the plot as the story of two male artists dealing with complicated romantic relationships with other characters and themes of addiction and mental health. His co-star, Lei White, 20, is also his co-director. Both Felty and White wrote the film’s 110-page script.

Friday, the movie crew shot scenes at Coliseum Northside Hospital, which is standing in for a mental health facility in the film.

Bobby McCullough, the director of photography, operated both of the cameras in the hospital bed scene. Capturing sound, Johnny Davis operated the boom microphone and is scoring the film’s soundtrack.

Neither are being paid for their work.

“We’re not paying anybody,” Felty said.

Macon has been host to major film productions in the past few years, like Warner Brothers’ “42,” and DreamWorks Studio’s “Need for Speed,” but the community also is open to micro-budget independent films and homegrown filmmakers.

For the production of “The Naked We,” its Macon-based, 20-year-old filmmakers depended on donated locations and props as well as volunteer actors, extras and technicians to bring their story to life.

Sam Macfie, director of business and government relations for Coliseum Northside Hospital, worked to make a few patient and conference rooms available for the film.

“We want to be a film-friendly community,” Macfie said, referring to Macon.

He cited Middle Georgia’s convenient proximity to Atlanta, its variety of locations from downtown to rural settings, its architecture and the state’s generous tax credits for film productions as reasons for the city’s recent success in attracting filmmakers.

Macfie also volunteers in fundraising, education and outreach for the Macon Film Festival board of directors. Although he doesn’t consider himself a filmmaker, he produced a documentary that screened at the 2012 festival telling the story of black golfers and caddies fighting against segregation at Bowden Golf Course in Macon.

Recently, Macfie was contacted by Terrell Sandefur, the festival’s president, about helping “The Naked We” with the hospital scene.

“If I’m able to help, I want to be able to do it,” Macfie said.

Other local venues that have allowed the film to shoot include the Rookery, Grant’s Lounge, the Dannenberg Lofts and the SoChi Gallery, where dozens of extras and an Atlanta-based jazz band volunteered their time for a party scene.

“People are bending over backwards,” said Felty, who grew up in Macon and attended Central High School. “It’s really reaffirmed my faith and made me think differently of this community.”

“This town embraces film,” said Marc Childs, who is helping to produce “The Naked We.”

Childs said he jumped onboard as soon as he read Felty and White’s script.

“At its heart, it’s about vulnerability and the ways that human beings strain to connect with one another,” Felty said. “We wanted to create a movie that made people uncomfortable in a healthy kind of way. We wanted people to confront their fundamental ugliness, their humanity.”

Unlike other productions that shoot in Macon but disguise it as another city, “The Naked We” is set in Macon. Its characters “wax poetic” about what it means to live here, Felty said.

He said an important scene takes place in the middle of the road on Cherry Street, with the Cox Capitol Theatre marquee as a backdrop.

“I would absolutely say Macon is a character in this film,” Felty said, “and a really prominent one.”

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 477-4382.

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